Wrecked Freighter Altadoc
Sparked Tiny Tourist Attraction
By James Donahue
It was an early winter
gale on the Great Lakes
that led to the destruction of the bulk carriers Altadoc, Agawa, Lambton and Martin. The date was Dec. 8, 1927. All four ships
were driven aground and destroyed by the storm which packed near hurricane force winds of up to 70 miles an hour.
The Altadoc, a Canadian-owned
vessel, was steaming empty on Lake Superior, bound for Fort William, Ontario,
when the storm drove it aground at Copper Harbor
on Keweenaw Point, at the northern tip of Michigan.
The steamer was hard
aground but still intact during the storm so the crew remained safe and able to escape to shore. Before salvagers could save
the 26-year-old vessel, her steel hull cracked and the ship was swept by a fire in its coal bunker.
The engine was salvaged
and the rest of the old ship was cut up for scrap during World War II.
An interesting antidote
to this story is that the ship’s pilothouse was removed and for several years used as a gift shop and two-room hotel
at Copper Harbor.
The facility was featured in National Geographic Magazine as possibly the world’s smallest resort. It lost that distinction
after the owners built additional cabins on the property.
The pilot house was mysteriously
destroyed by fire in the 1980s and is no more. Some of the cabins from the original resort are still to be found in various
places around the Keweenaw.
While the 365-foot-long
vessel is best remembered as the Altadoc, she only held that name for one season following its sale to N. M. Paterson &
Sons Ltd of Canada in 1926. She was launched
as the Lake Shore at Bay
City, Michigan, in 1901, and later renamed Indus.